PHOENIX — Kirk Gibson loves Jim Leyland. We know that because Gibson told Leyland so as the two met at home plate to exchange lineup cards when the Diamondbacks played a 2011 series in Detroit.
Gibson credits Leyland, his first manager in the Tigers’ minor league system, for teaching him to play the game the right way.
History notwithstanding, Gibson appears very unlikely to be the man to replace Leyland as the Tigers’ manager. While Gibson was one of the first candidates to jump to mind in the wake of Leyland’s surprise resignation Monday, the Diamondbacks said Monday that they expect him to return in 2014.
“Kirk Gibson is where he wants to be, and he is where we want him to be,” D-backs president/CEO Derrick Hall said Monday morning.
Gibson, who led the D-backs to 2011 NL West title in his first full season as manager and has been 81-81 the last two years, has one year remaining on a contract that was reworked after 2011. The Diamondbacks also hold options for 2015 and 2016.
If the Tigers call to ask permission to speak to Gibson about the vacancy, permission will “likely not” be granted, a source close to the situation said.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Gibson does not have an out clause in his contract related to the Detroit job, sources said. Gibson was not immediately available for comment.
Gibson and the Tigers go back a long way. GIbson was Detroit’s first-round pick in the 1978 draft after a stellar career as a wide receiver/outfielder at Michigan State. Longtime scout Jim Martz called Gibson the best baseball player he had ever scouted.
Gibson played 12 of his 17 major league seasons with the Tigers, the first nine and the last three, before retiring in 1996. He had 195 home runs and 194 stolen bases with the Tigers and had five seasons of 20 homers and 20 stolen bases. He also was the NL MVP with the Dodgers after signing as a free agent in 1988.
After retirement, Gibson remained close to the Tigers. He worked on the broadcast team with Ernie Harwell and was the Tigers’ bench coach under Alan Trammell from 2003-05 before joining the Diamondbacks in 2007.